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Kingfisher’s firm operating schedule in a few days: Mallya

New Delhi(IANS): Vijay Mallya-led cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines (KFA)Thursday said that it will come up with a firm operating schedule in the next few days.

“We will come up with a firm schedule which will have 100 percent certainty to it. In a few days time we will have a crystal clear plan, a road map covering all aspects from the trade, travelling public, employees. It will clearly show that Kingfisher can move ahead,” Mallya told reporters here after a meeting with his airlines pilots.

“The certainty of schedule will be maintained… There are other issues that affect schedule integrity which we need to take care of and we are in process of addressing them seriously.”

Mallya also described the new schedule by stating that it will envisage more flight operations on “many many more routes with daily flights.”

“We require a process of stabilisation. We are already implementing various initiatives that we believe we need to take under the current environment.”

On Wednesday, the airline announced that it is slashing its wide-bodied aircraft operations on international sectors that are making heavy losses. The beleaguered carrier had to also return one leased Airbus A330-320 to its lessor in Britain.

KFA’s flight operations also continued to be affected for over a week — it managed to operate only 101 flights Tuesday and promised to operate a similar number even Wednesday. This is a sharp fall as compared to 145 on Monday.

According to Mallya, who is scheduled to meet International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) secretary general Tony Tyler on Friday, he will try to resolve the booking issues with IATA.

Kingfisher was suspended by IATA from its inter-airline transaction body ICH (IATA Clearing House) and BSP (Billing and Settlement Plan) accounts on March 9 – on account of non-payment of dues.
“We have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow with IATA’s secretary general and hopefully the issue will be resolved. Financial will be discussed… the (KFAs) money IATA is holding,” he said.

The airlines’ problems also increased as the service tax department — for the fourth time in four months — had frozen 40 bank accounts belonging to it as KFA failed to meet the Feb 29 deadline for clearing the dues worth Rs.40 crore to the department.

“I have made a representation to the tax authorities and these are under consideration by them. The decision has to be taken by the appropriate authority. I can not push them.”
Mallya added that one foreign airline and two-non airlines investors who are interested have shown very high degree of interest in pumping in fresh equity in the company.

“We have obviously been working relentlessly for fresh equity. We are in touch with
potential investors who are showing high degree of interest. But as far as the airline investor is concerned they can only invest when the government clears the FDI proposal.”

A cabinet decision is due on the proposed 49 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) by foreign carriers in domestic airlines. Currently, the government allows for FDI up to 49 percent in Indian carriers by non-airline players but bans foreign airlines from directly investing for security concerns.
Kingfisher’s woes were exacerbated Feb 18 when its employees in Kolkata went on a flash strike as they had not received their salaries for several months.

The airline, which later on curtailed its flight plans, blamed the seizure of its bank accounts in February by the Income Tax Department as the main hurdle in clearing of dues.

Kingfisher has a debt of Rs.7,057.08 crore. Its net loss widened to Rs.444.27 crore for the quarter ended Dec 31, 2011, from Rs.253.69 crore in the October-December quarter in the last fiscal.

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